Jacob Dyer Spiegel is founder and lead facilitator of Sirocco Blue, a Boston-based international education consulting organization with numerous business lines: study
abroad development in English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish-speaking countries; post-study abroad program job placement; translation & content editing; local arts & cultural programming; photography; real estate (residential & commercial) and interior design, following what we are defining as a “sirocco aesthetic.”
Before starting Sirocco Blue, Jacob was the head of Laspau-Harvard University’s traditional scholarship programs (2015-16) and led institutional relations with the major scholarship providers in Latin America and the Caribbean: Science Without Borders/Ciência sem Fronteiras-CNPq and CAPES (Brazil), Social Sciences and Humanities Program-CAPES (Brazil), Fulbright (throughout the region), Organization of American States (multiple countries), W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Haiti/Mexico), Innóvate Perú, INICIA Educación (Dominican Republic), BecAR (Argentina), MIT-Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina).
Prior to that, Jacob led the rebuilding of the CIEE study center in Salvador, Brazil and shortly after became resident director (2012-2015). He managed all client relations and center operations, taught university-level courses on the African diaspora in Brazil, developed the Brazilian-Portuguese language and culture program, created and implemented dozens of short-term programs for U.S. universities, and led workshops on the topic of intercultural learning. Jacob developed and supervised five other courses on Bahia and facilitated a “city as text” seminar for the students doing semester-long community service projects.
Jacob was a Fulbright Scholar in Salvador, Brazil (2011) and did research on African Brazilian religions and the role of the terreiro (the religious house or community) in housing education projects for youth. He taught in one if these projects in Salvador in 2002 and 2007. In future articles, Jacob will write about his time in the Fulbright program. His cohort, the largest to arrive in Brazil, began research one week before U.S. President Obama announced 100,000 Strong in the Americas. A few months into the research, Brazilian President Dilma announced Ciência sem Fronteiras: 101,000 Brazilians, over a ten-year period, would study in STEM fields. This was a joint-initiative involving 201,000 scholars, one of the largest mobility projects ever. Jacob participated in both of these initiatives, not only as a Fulbright Scholar in-country when the announcement was made, but also through CIEE and Laspau-Harvard University: he will be writing about the story behind the scenes of these two interconnected education projects on the blog.
Jacob has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and an M.A. in Caribbean Cultural Studies from the first-ever dual enrolled consortium between a Cuban and U.S. institution: La Universidad de la Habana and the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB). Because he participated in so many study abroad programs at UMass-Amherst as an undergraduate (Spain, Cuba, Brazil), Jacob was honored as “UMass King of Study Abroad” by Cristina Sosa, a title he is quite proud of, and two separate B.A. degrees because he took so many courses: Comparative Literature with a Minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Spanish & Portuguese Languages and Cultures.
As a graduate student instructor, Jacob taught his own expository writing courses for two years and led discussion sections for courses on modern world fiction and representations of trauma in literature. His coursework and dissertation project centered on African diaspora studies and translation theory, specifically the appearance and re-appearance of the great Orishas (Yoruba: “deities”) of communication and translation–Eshu and Elegguá, sometimes Exú, sometimes Elegbara, sometimes so codified they remain unnamed yet always present—in Caribbean and Latin American literatures.